Out of the Darkness and into the Light
Let’s begin with a story.
The Younger Days
This is the story of an introverted only child - independent by nature, and quite used to spending time alone, comforted by her own creative imaginings. She was a happy and social child, but something shifted as she entered puberty and began the transition into adulthood. She became self-conscious and uncomfortable in her own [acne-riddled] skin, and used her natural independence as a crutch, claiming not to ‘need’ the company of others, when she was actually terrified being seen for who she really was - human and imperfect.
If she couldn’t accept herself, why should she expect anyone else to accept her, blemishes and all?
While she managed to maintain a handful of close friendships, she relentlessly curated her existence and did her best to keep only the most polished version of herself on view. She was terrified of the true intimacy and vulnerability that genuine connection requires. She turned down opportunities for growth when the performance anxiety was too much to bear. As solace was safer, she removed herself from the burden of expectation. This girl was smart and talented but reluctant to shine in fear that she would falter and prove that it was all just a facade.
Continuing in College
This self-destructive hiding pattern and fear of being seen continued throughout her college years, as she adjusted to a new environment far from home and the safety net of childhood friends. Ironically, she pursued a degree in the performing arts, despite her determination to stay out of the spotlight. During a particularly challenging semester, a professor pulled her aside and told her to “take off [her] invisibility cloak,” that she had worked hard and deserved to be seen. The words stung because their truth resonated deeply, but she was stuck so deeply inside of her insecurity that they weren’t enough to pull her out. She continued to skate by under the radar, an ensemble dancer, reluctant to own the power of her presence - declaring that she would show up once she was “ready”, once she had “fixed” herself and was “acceptable” by some imaginary parameters. Until then, she would keep her cloak on.
Life Continues On
This story continues with the invisible girl’s return to her hometown, degree in hand, eager to find a respite from academic demands in her childhood bedroom once again. She was coaxed into involvement with the local dance scene and slowly chipped away at some of her anxious walls, reconnecting with passionate friends from high school who were fighting to activate local art and culture. Still she remained uncomfortable and unsettled, unwilling to be a visible revolutionary, and blaming her dissatisfaction on the lack of pre-existing opportunity in her town. Despite the love and support of family and friends, she couldn’t see the light that others claimed to find in her so easily - she knew it was an act she performed to get by, but that her spirit remained cloaked in darkness.
She wanted to see the world, but refused to let the world see her.
Something had to change.
There was a desperate nagging in her soul to Go, Go, Go - to seek truth and beauty and unearth the passion that had been buried by the onslaught of self-consciousness years ago. This nagging kept her awake at night until she left her unfulfilling desk job, packed up her car, and used her savings to zig-zag across the country, solo, for four months. She was determined to find her Place - the one geographical location that would provide the sense of Connection and Acceptance she was searching for.
It was a grand and exciting adventure, but often lonely, as she zipped across state lines, making superficial connections and looking externally for all of her answers. The trip felt necessary for her restless soul, but not courageous as others saw it - the control and solitude provided by making the journey alone, on her own terms, was completely within her comfort zone.
Her journey ultimately brought her to Northern California, for an immersive arts internship in the Marin Headlands. Once again, she had a bedroom of her own, but something shifted - she had the luxury of time and space to commit to a daily writing practice that offered true introspection and self-reflection, and she had the lightbulb realization that Acceptance begins with the self, above all else. This is not new information, but it had gotten so easy for her to pretend she didn't already know to look within to dissolve her fears.
In this wise words of Jon Kabat-Zinn, “wherever you go, there you are.”
She was on the run from herself no more.
She spent her days sitting with herself, exactly where she was, a living meditation - ogling the grandeur of the Golden Gate bridge, laughing at the sneaky family of raccoons in residence next door, taking deep, eucalyptus-filled breaths, and watching the sun set over the Pacific, all while allowing herself to just Be, and visibly so. She was looking for truth and beauty and had finally gotten a glimpse of it - in herself, in the true camaraderie of her fellow interns (whom she often shared her dark secrets with, GASP!) and in the natural, peaceful environment that felt like a sacred gift.
She was beginning to remove her invisibility cloak and step into the Light.
Enamored with the Bay, she took one step further and decided to Stay.
Spoiler alert… (dun dun dun!)… the girl in this story is me.
Office Manager of The Remedy.
Dreamer of dreams.
It’s taken me many years (and over 3,000 miles) to realize that
a) I can leave the house without makeup on
b) I can sing off-key in public if I'm feeling it, and
c) accepting our imperfect selves and finding a solid sense of Belonging is more valuable than almost anything else in our lives.
At the end of my internship, I uprooted myself from the Headlands to make a home in the East Bay, and encountered the challenges of a new environment and solitude all over again, but it wasn’t self-imposed or rooted in fear this time. Unpacking my trunk, actively seeking community, and deciding to Stay, is honestly the hardest and most courageous thing I’ve ever done. I’ve opened myself up to Love and Light, and found Andrea and Stephanie, and our incredible network of healers, in the process.
Self-acceptance is a daily practice, and some days are harder than others, but everything is easier when we have like-minded folks to share the journey with. The Remedy is my tribe, and seeks to provide that same sense of Acceptance and Belonging for everyone that comes through our doors.
Taking a glance at Maslow’s infamous Hierarchy of Needs, Love & Belonging come in at #3, just after Physiological needs (like food, water, and sleep) and a sense of Safety (physical, emotional, financial). Without the rooting force of Belonging in our lives, it’s easy to feel untethered and disconnected - to lose sight of the dreams we have for self-actualization and the relentless pursuit of our personal truths. Our very identities are shaped by those we share time and relationships with - and when we find ourselves isolated, or willingly isolate ourselves out of fear or pride, we risk losing motivation when life gets challenging, as it inevitably does. The more meaningful connections we have in our lives, the more likely we are to persist and to thrive.
Now that I’m here, and glad to be, I’m determined to make myself at Home.
Home, to me, is defined more by people than place, more by Connection than geography.
Having a baseline sense of peace, acceptance, comfort, support and Community provides a launching point for dramatic transformation and growth in other aspects of our lives.
By coming together, we become more ourselves.
We must make room and -allow- ourselves to Love and Belong.
So...what’s the moral to my story?
There’s no such thing as being “ready.”
Perfection? Doesn’t exist either, so you can drop that ridiculous notion too.
You don’t have to change a single thing about yourself to be accepted for exactly who you are. There’s no “fixing” or concealing or cattle prodding yourself required - we just ask that you show up and share the journey. We can help you embrace your darkness to find some light.
Be gentle with yourself.
We love you.
You are whole and enough and lovely as you are, and you are not alone.
Blessings and Gratitude,
& The Remedy Family